The City of San Leandro, California has agreed to a settlement agreement in which it will pay the International Church of Foursquare Gospel $2.3 million in order to end its five-year litigation with the Church. The case had worked its way through the Ninth Circuit and even reached the United States Supreme Court. Daniel Dalton, founding partner at Dalton & Tomich plc, submitted an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Church. The Court of Appeals accepted the brief and used the arguments in its opinion affirming religious liberty.
In 2007, the Church attempted to relocate its rapidly growing congregation to an industrial area within San Leandro. The City refused, alleging the Church’s proposed move conflicted with its zoning code that had set aside the land for manufacturing uses. However, the City allowed entertainment activities and commercial recreation to operate in industrial zones. The Church then filed suit, alleging the City’s refusal to allow the Church to relocate to the industrial zone violated its rights under RLUIPA.
In 2011, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the Church, finding the City’s actions violated RLUIPA by imposing a substantial burden on the Church’s religious exercise. San Leandro appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in October 2011 the Court denied certiorari.
San Leandro announced the settlement agreement at its September 24 City Council meeting. In a statement released by the City, San Leandro admitted no wrongdoing and made no changes to its zoning code. The City also said it had sufficient funds in its self-insurance fund and reserve account to cover the settlement amount, meaning taxpayers fortunately will not be on the hook to pay any of the $2.3 million.
This case is representative of how courts nationwide are vigorously enforcing RLUIPA, and how municipalities are agreeing to large settlements rather than drag out litigation and risk an even larger monetary loss at trial. If you are a religious entity and feel that you have been discriminated against in the areas of land use or zoning, the experienced attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC are available to answer any questions you may have.
Dalton & Tomich, PLC is the national leader in successfully helping churches, other religious institutions and their insurers defend their rights in land use and zoning matters under RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. We have helped clients win cases against municipalities and other local government bodies from coast to coast, with experience serving both as general counsel and special litigation counsel.
In 2015, Hope Rising Community Church experienced extreme opposition, the kind that would force it to close its doors and leave behind the families and youth it was so passionate about reaching. As the lead pastor I felt helpless, inferior and as if I had no […]Read More
Dalton & Tomich’s assistance in our RLUIPA matter has paved the way for our church to continue serving the community and for new churches in the area to thrive in the future. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your stand for religious […]Read More
The Urban Church will be forever grateful to Dalton & Tomich plc for navigating it through a difficult land use issue. Let them give you honest and caring advice because that’s exactly what they’ll do.Read More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC defended a complicated case at a church we insure. Not only is the firm professional, they understand how church business runs and work well within church leadership.Read More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC helped us immensely in the areas of litigation and negotiation! Their professionalism and understanding of church policy helped our church be victorious in a modern day religious land use battle. RLUIPA Religious Land Use Case: Lighthouse Community Church of GodRead More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC serves as General Counsel for the 144 churches within the Church of God in Michigan. The firm provides the legal expertise we need in dealing with the issues that arise during the course of fulfilling our ministry.Read More
I met Dan Dalton during a dark time for our church. He was recommended as the leading RLUIPA attorney in the nation. He demonstrated wisdom, expertise, a gentle nature, a calming inter-relational skill, genuineness, and a humble demeanor, while at the same time, being sharp, […]Read More
Mr. Dalton’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. His personal interest in helping our church went “above and beyond” just the call of duty. His understanding of both legal and spiritual matters seems to uniquely […]Read More